21 November, 2019
A Claimant who brought a claim against the local authority after tripping in a damaged manhole cover has lost his claim at trial.
The Claimant alleged that he was unpacking shopping from his car parked outside his niece's house, when his right foot caught in a damaged manhole cover, causing him to fall and sustain an injury.
Liability for the defect was admitted in the portal, but the Defendant was concerned about the number of inconsistencies in the Claimant's account of the accident and put the Claimant to strict proof.
At trial, the Defendant subjected the Claimant to robust cross-examination in relation to the accident circumstances. After hearing the Claimant's unconvincing evidence the Judge remarked he "was beginning to form the impression that the Claimant was tailoring his evidence". The Judge concluded at best the evidence was "muddled" and described the Claimant as "highly unreliable" and "evasive".
The Claimant's credibility was further undermined when he was unable to say how many claims for personal injury he had previously made. He was asked whether he had received compensation for a tripping claim in 2012, to which he replied that he did not know. He then changed his response stating that he could not recall before eventually conceding that he had received compensation following litigation in 2013.
Although the Judge commented that he was "extremely close to finding that he was simply lying", he ultimately found that the Claimant had not proved his case and dismissed the claim.
In this case, there were a large number of small inconsistencies which when viewed in isolation did not amount to much but when considered collectively and alongside the Claimant's prolific claims history significantly undermined both the Claimant's credibility and the overall claim. Although, the Judge declined to make a finding of fundamental dishonesty, we are delighted that the Defendant's robust approach resulted in the dismissal of the claim.
For more information contact Sarah Davisworth in our Insurance department via email or phone on 0113 386 2688. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.